Senators on Wednesday threatened to impeach the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), over the worsening insecurity in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, and the country at large.
The angry senator, who are in the opposition, gave the President a six-week ultimatum to address the security crisis or face impeachment proceedings.
Opposition senators issued the ultimatum on Wednesday as fears over insecurity in Abuja worsened with the government ordering schools to shut to prevent attacks by terrorists.
The Presidency in a statement by the President’s spokesman, Garba Shehu, described the action of the opposition senators as babyish, advising them to put their time to a better use.
The nation’s capital had been gripped by fear following the attack by suspected terrorists on the elite Presidential Guards Brigade by gunmen along the Bwari-Kubwa road on Sunday in which a captain, lieutenant and six soldiers were killed. Three others were injured in The personnel were on their way to the Bwari campus of the Nigeria Law School which had received a threat when they were ambushed.
Following this development, the security forces Tuesday deployed troops and policemen in strategic locations in the FCT, including helicopters and drones.
Also on Tuesday night, there were reports of sporadic shootings at Dantata Bridge, Airport road and Ministers’ Hill, Maitama, sparking panic among residents.
Similarly, a leaked memo from the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps indicating that Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa Province terrorists were amassing dangerous weapons for massive attacks on Katsina, Lagos, FCT, Kaduna, and Zamfara States, created further fear in Abuja.
The criminals were reported to have acquired high-calibre weapons, including Anti-aircraft guns, General Purpose Machine Guns, among others.
Tension has, however, increased in the city as messages circulated on social media that the terrorists were planning to attack some estates in Gwarimpa, Lokogoma, Maitama, Apo and other high brow areas.
Security guards and residents of estates in the area expressed concern over the poor security in Abuja, saying the government must sit up.
Private security guards at some estates confided in The PUNCH that they were worried about the ominous signs, saying the residents were scared of possible terrorist attacks.
A resident of a popular private estate at Gwarimpa, Charles Kufre, said he was worried about the insecurity in the FCT.
He said, ‘’The terrorists have occupied the streets of Abuja and we are still playing politics instead of us to shout out. They have issued a threat and those guys would carry out their threats; we have seen this in the past. If they can attack Kuje Medium Custodial Centre, it is only God that can prevent further attacks.”
A Kuje resident, Joshua Friday, said it was worrisome that the nation’s capital which used to be safe had been infiltrated by criminals.
“The entire security situation in the FCT calls for concern. What it means is that Abuja that we used to think is the safest place in the country has been breached. Take a look at these attacks that have happened of recent for yourself,’’ he noted.
A worried resident of Lugbe , Balarabe Musa said, “Since Monday, I have hardly slept. You don’t know where the attack is coming from. Life has not been the same. We cannot move around the way we used to. The most painful thing is that our leaders will not admit it.”
Sunday Jackson, a furniture store Manager in the Karu area of Abuja, said that in spite of the security scare, he still closed his store “at the regular time of 8pm”.
An ice cream store owner in the area, who spoke to our reporter on the condition of anonymity, said her safety was in God’s hands, adding that she closed her store at 10pm, and felt safe enough to walk home, regardless of the security situation.
Efforts to get the Media Aide to the FCT Minister, Mohammed Sani proved abortive as calls to his lines were not answered. He has yet to reply to a message sent to him on the efforts being put in place by the administration to allay the fears of residents.
Also, the FCT police command spokesperson, Josephine Adeh, declined comment on the insecurity in the FCT.
Meanwhile, the FCT Administration has ordered all schools to shut down as apprehension spreads in the FCT.
Earlier, the Federal Ministry of Education ordered the immediate closure of one of its Unity Colleges, the Federal Government College Kwali, located in Kwali Area Council of the Abuja, on Tuesday.
The decision was taken after a reported terrorist attack on the neighbouring Sheda community close to the college.
However, in a statement signed by the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools in Nigeria, Abuja, on Wednesday, The PUNCH gathered that the directive to shut down schools came from the FCT Education secretariat.
The message read, “Dear school educators, instruction reaching me now from the Ag. Director DQA is that the FCT Education secretariat has directed that schools are to make sure all examinations going on should be ended by Wednesday, July 27,2022 and all students including those in boarding should be allowed to go home for the holiday.
“Those writing external examinations and schools that have planned their end of the year speech and prize-giving day beyond Wednesday, 27th could go ahead as planned but must put adequate security in place to safeguard both students and staff of their schools, you are addressed strictly to the above instructions.”
Confirming the authenticity of the statement, the publicity secretary, NAPPS, AMAC, Peter Edoh said, “Yes. It is very true”.
The PUNCH reports that there have been reports of attacks in the capital city following the release of senior commanders of the Boko Haram during the invasion of the Kuje prison.
In compliance with the directive, some schools were hurriedly closed down on Wednesday as panic gripped residents over fear of possible attack by terrorists.
A Catholic school, Veritas University, Bwari, announced the end of its 2021/2022 academic session.
A statement released by the Media and Public Relations Officer of the school, Evelyn Obekpa stated that the examination for first year students had been postponed due to the directive by the FCT minister.
It read, “The management of Veritas University wishes to notify the general public that the University has successfully completed the 2021/2022 academic session.
“However, due to the current security tension and the directives of the Minister of the FCT for the closure of schools in Abuja, examinations for our 100 level students shall be conducted at a date to be announced later.
“Candidates seeking admission into Veritas University for the 2022/2023 academic session are encouraged to visit the University or the university’s website – www.veritas.edu.ng to obtain admission form. All correspondences may be forwarded to the following emails.”
Reacting to the increasing state of insecurity in FCT, the Financial Secretary of Karimo Market, Wilson Lawrence said, “The insecurity rounding the market area is so high nobody has put the traders into consideration.
“If the terrorists or bandits attack the markets, it is going to be a very bad incident with many casualties. Flash back to the Nyanya bomb blast experience. We are also calling on the government to provide security to market traders. It is very important.”
Taking a cue from the FCTA, the Nasarawa State Government has also ordered the immediate closure of both public and private schools to safeguard the lives of students in the state.
The closure of schools across the state was part of the resolution arrived at during an expanded state executive council meeting at the Government House, Lafia on Wednesday.
Briefing journalists shortly after the council meeting, the state Commissioner for Education, Fatu Sabo, said “The decision became necessary considering the proximity of the state to the FCT as well as the resolve of the government to ensure that schools in Nasarawa state operate within a safe environment.’’
She, however, clarified that the directives excluded the exit classes that are already writing their final examinations, especially in secondary schools.
Meanwhile, the impeachment moves against Buhari began when the Senate Minority Leader and the senator representing the FCT, Philip Aduda, Peoples Democratic Party, FCT, raised a point of order for the Senate to deliberate on issues raised at the closed-door session which lasted for two hours.
The Senate President, after the session, announced that issues relating to smooth running of the Senate and unity in Nigeria were deliberated upon but instructed the leader of the Senate to proceed with items listed on the order paper.
Miffed by the development, Aduda raised a point of order, calling for deliberation on issues discussed at the closed-door session.
He said, “ Mr President, I raised this point of order to bring to the front burner, issues deliberated upon at the closed-door session.
“Resolution made by all Senators at the closed door session which lasted for two hours was to further deliberate on it in plenary and arrive at a resolution to give President Muhammadu Buhari ultimatum on an urgent basis to stop the worsening security situation or face impeachment.”
The Senate President quickly interrupted him by saying that his point of order fell flat on its face since he didn’t discuss it with him.
Lawan in his ruling said, “Minority leader, when you’re going to come under a point of order, first, you’re supposed to cite the order.
“Secondly, you’re supposed to discuss with me what you’re going to raise on the floor. You didn’t. Thirdly, we have already passed that stage. So, at this moment, I really don’t know what the point of order is, as such it falls flat on its face.”
He, thereafter, instructed the leader of the Senate to proceed with items on the order paper.
In response to the development, all the Senators across the opposition parties led by Aduda stormed out of the chamber chanting, “All we are saying, Buhari must go, Nigeria must survive, Ahmad Lawan should follow .”
The protesting Senators, including Adamu Bulkachuwa (APC Bauchi North), later gathered at the Senate Press Centre to disclose what transpired during the closed-door session.
Speaking on behalf of the Senators, the minority leader said their anger was fueled by the refusal of the Senate President to follow the resolutions taken by senators across party lines at the closed-door session.
He said, “We are here to tell Nigerians that as Senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, we are disappointed with the way the worsening security situation across the country is being handled.
“We held closed-door session for two hours, where it was resolved that the issue will be deliberated upon in plenary with an agreed resolution to give President Muhamnadu Buhari a -six week ultimatum to address the insecurity issue of the country or face impeachment by both Chambers of the National Assembly.”
He added, “We agreed that the primary responsibility of government is the protection of lives and property of citizens.
“For us the minority caucus in the Senate, we also took into cognizance the fact that the Senate had at various times convened various security meetings, various security issues were discussed and we did recommend to government various steps and measures aimed at curbing these issues of insecurity. We realised that even Abuja that we are in is no safer and all of you will agree with us.
“So, at the close session we agreed that we will give the President an ultimatum that if it does not comply with the resolutions, we will move immediately to give an impeachment notice. This we agreed at the exclusive session.”
The minority leader added that they had expected the Senate President to brief the public on the issues that have happened but this, however, did not happen.
Aduda then said, “So we have come here in protest to brief you (press) and to let you know that we are with Nigerians in this struggle and that we are worried that nowhere is safe in Nigeria and as such we have walked out of the chambers in protest that the security situation in “Nigeria is deteriorating and urgent steps need to be completely taken to ensure that these issues are curbed immediately. These are the issues that were discussed and these are the reasons why we left the senate plenary in protest.”
On how soon the opposition lawmakers would formalise their impeachment threats against the President, Aduda said, “We have given six weeks’ notice within which the security issues should be resolved and all our resolutions should also be implemented.
“We have passed so many resolutions on what should be done about insecurity and we have given all the support to that effect.”
Aside the PDP Senators who participated in the walkout, other Senators like Enyinnaya Abaribe (APGA Abia South), Ibrahim Shekarau (NNPP Kano Central), Francis Onyewuchi (Imo East ) etc, also joined.
Former Senate Majority Leader, who recently defected to the People’s Democratic Party, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi also said what, happened was that the senate was unable to agree on the motion to impeach the president.
He said, “The Majority leader said that they wouldn’t support impeachment while the minority insisted that we should impeach him, so we were all on the issue before the plenary.
“That was why the senators then walked out on the Senate President. I am in support of the motion and we all both majority and minority are unhappy with the President on this security issues.”
Abdullahi said the president as the Commander In-Chief was expected to do the needful.
He stated, “The Senate is giving him six weeks to visit those resolutions and implement them, else we would look into the constitution and address the issue from what the constitution states.”
Also commenting on the issue, the lawmaker representing Kogi-West, Senator Smart Adeyemi said that the motion was not only moved by the opposition party but it is a uniform agreement of the Senate.
When contacted, Senate Spokesperson, Senator Ajibola Basiru, said he was not part of the closed session.
Basiru, however, said he was concerned about the insecurity situation in the country.
He said, “There should be an executive-legislative strategy to tackle the situation. It is becoming worrisome and we cannot continue like this.”
Also, the Senate President had told the security agencies to be alert and do more to stop the rising insecurity.
He said, “I am particularly concerned like all of us here, through our various interactions, including a very important closed session we had today.
“We (Federal Government) have to be alert and alive to our responsibility, particularly to secure and protect the lives of our citizen.
But reacting to threats by the lawmakers, the Federal Government said it is “working 24 hours” to bring the situation under control.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, who addressed House Correspondents shortly after the Federal Executive Council meeting chaired by Buhari, commended the lawmakers for their patriotism but added that work is ongoing to restore order.
The minister said, “As to the resolution passed by the Senate, it was passed when we were deliberating (at the FEC meeting). We thank them for their patriotism and their concern. But we are working around the clock 24 hours to ensure that the situation is brought under control.
“I want to assure you that the President is aware of all these and as a matter of fact, I think tomorrow there’s going to be another Security Council meeting. So, it’s not a matter the President is taking lightly and like I’ll always say some of the measures we’re going to take are not measures that you can discuss openly here, but we’re as concerned as you are, we’re not going to abandon our responsibility.”
Lai dismissed as laughable the threats by some terrorists in a viral video to abduct the President.
The terrorists who flogged the 43 passengers of the Kaduna-Abuja train had threatened to abduct Buhari and the Kaduna Stated Governor, Nasir El-Rufai.
Presidency berate Senators
The Special Adviser to the president on Media and Publicity, Shehu, in a statement on Wednesday night described their the opposition actions as “performative and babyish antics”.
He also commended Lawan for turning down the motion, saying it was quite appropriate and correct.
The statement added, “In contrast, the President Muhammadu Buhari administration is committed to finding lasting solutions to the emerging security threats, including those left behind by the PDP in the South-South, the Northeast and throughout the federation. In the last 24 hours, two more Chibok girls were freed, in addition to the three brought home last week.”
Amid the growing insecurity in the country, the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ahmed Wase, has warned Nigerians against scaring investors away from the country over their alarms.
According to him, the Federal Capital territory is still safe.
Wase issued the warning in a drama that played out at the close of plenary on Wednesday.
The Deputy Speaker, who presided over the day’s session, in his closing remark, said in part, “I believe most of us will be retiring to the constituencies but for the PDP (members) who have yet to get themselves organised, you are free to stay around.”
After the Majority Leader, Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, moved a motion for adjournment till September 20 for the two-month annual recess of the National Assembly, the Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu, while seconding the motion, replied Wase.
Elumelu said while the ruling All Progressives Congress had accepted its fate on losing the recent governorship election in Osun State to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, the minority party would win the 2023 general elections.
“However, I want to beg members, Abuja is no longer safe; please, if possible, go back to your constituencies. The place is insecure and I am very sure about this,” the Minority Leader added.
The Majority Leader interjected Elumelu, saying he was “derailing,” Wase stated that security is everybody’s business and “we should not play politics with security.”
The Deputy Speaker added, “Colleagues, I want to beg of us that we all need to come together, work together and think in a manner that we can work together to sort out our issues. I believe the Minority Leader, maybe he was putting some jokes, but I do not believe that it was a joke on the security in the lives and property “of the people.”
“By the grace of God Abuja is going to be secured. I do not think we should scare investors who are coming into the country. I do not believe that we should scare people who could come to add value to us. The parliament may be the one to raise this issue, maybe one or two issues, but it has not gotten to that level to say Abuja is not safe.’’
Commenting on the security situation, retired commodore Abimbola Ayuba, observed that the nation was bound to find itself in an embarrassing situation because the government allowed the criminals to have free rein.
He stated, ‘’What we are experiencing now is the fallout of the prison attack in Kuje and some of the escaped inmates have decided to join ranks with their brothers to take vengeance
Bandits were reported to have attacked Damari town of Kazaga Ward, Birnin-Gwari Local Government Area of Kaduna State and killed three while no fewer than 13 villagers were abducted.
This was contained in a statement by the chairman, Birnin-Gwari Emirate Progressive Union, Ishaq Kasai, released to newsmen in Kaduna, late Wednesday evening.
It was learnt that the hoodlums in large numbers and on motorcycles raided the village between Monday and Tuesday unchallenged.